Road To The Draft: Jonathan Isaac
PF, Florida State – 19 Years Old
Listed Height: 6’10.5” – Listed Wingspan: 7’1.3” (Per DraftExpress.com)
12.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 26.2 MPG
50.8% FG, 34.8% 3PT
Fluidity with size
Strength in the post
Sets weak screens
Speed/Length to defend the perimeter
Enough skill to create offensively
Prototypical modern NBA PF
Can be out-muscled
Occasionally stagnant on offense
Playmaking must improve
And so it begins. As the tournament winds down, we get our last look at some of college basketball’s finest products. With just the combine remaining, not many people have more to gain (or lose) than the stud freshman swing player out of Florida State – Mr. Jonathan Isaac.
Isaac comes in sporting a quietly efficient stat-line in only 26 MPG for a very good Seminoles team. With Bacon leading the scoring barrage, and Ojo frequently dominating the glass, Isaac was not the primary contributor anywhere on the board – but he still managed to boast 12/8 in shortened minutes. Isaac’s lack of play time surely was unrelated to his usually stellar play – this was a very legitimate Noles team who played 11 players deep and kept everyone fresh. In my book; even as good as FSU was, Isaac was underutilized this entire season.
The Two Faces of Jonathan Isaac
Let me reiterate what I already stated was the most concerning weakness of Jonathan Isaac: Consistency. You really do not need to look any farther than the tournament to see what I’m talking about.
Game 1 vs. FGCU: 17 points, 5/8 shooting, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
Isaac had his fingerprints all over this one. Contributing 15/10/5 in his first game in the tournament, Isaac flashed just about his entire skillset. He played well defensively with 3 blocks and 2 steals, and he showed off his overall versatility at 6”10 with 5 assists. If he is selected in the top 5; which he has a very good chance to be, it will be because the team who selects him is looking for this player.
Game 2 vs. Xavier: 8 points, 4/7 shooting, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, 5 personal fouls
If Game 1 is why Isaac could get picked in the top 5, his Round of 32 game is why I have seen him as low as 9 (Give me a break!) on some people’s big boards. The fear with Isaac is he often appears content to hang out in the corner and play off ball. With a top 5 pick, you usually swing for the fence and try to draft the guy who has the ability to take over a game. The last thing you want is a timid “star” player. Unfortunately though, Isaac is as inconstant as they come. Isaac scored in single digits 11 times this year, and even scored 5 points or below 6 times. As good as he is, he also may have a career as a magician because his disappearing act on the offensive end is next-level.
At the end of the day, you don’t draft a kid in the top 5 because you think he is the most likely to average a consistent 10/8. You’re looking for the kid who can put up something crazy like; say, 23 points on 9 shots, 10 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
When I look at Isaac, I see a kid who moves like a guard at 6’10”, who still effectively protects the rim at only 205 pounds. Isaac has tons of room to grow on both sides of the ball, and given his polished scoring already, I think this kid has a bright future. While Fultz is A1, and Lonzo/Jackson/Tatum are A2…Jonathan Isaac is firmly in the next tier of players with Smith Jr., Monk, Fox, and Ntilkina as guys who have a chance to penetrate the top 5.
If Isaac is going to become a star in the NBA, it’s because he develops into an elite 2 way player. He moves like a guard and can cover the perimeter very effectively – terrorizing passing lanes with his reach, but then has the ability to rotate into the paint and effectively protect the rim. I would go as far as to say that outside of Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac could be the best overall defender in this draft. Offensively, Isaac has already nearly mastered the “Pump fake, 1 dribble, pull up” move that lets guys with his length and quickness thrive on the perimeter. To truly become effective, Isaac will need to be able to handle the ball a little better to initiate his own shot – but I have no doubt that Isaac will be able to tear up most 4’s on the perimeter if faced with 1v1 coverage. The kid has all the physical tools…he just needs to put it all together.